Memorials: Episode 5
Money got our heroine into this mess and now that she’s learned there’s no money to be had, she’s forced to consider other options. To make matters worse, the struggle to gain recognition among her colleagues continues to be an uphill battle and while some have grown more congenial in the wake of the controversial vote, others will take more convincing.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
In the aftermath of Chairman Jo’s proposal to relinquish their pay until the finances are under control, Se-ra ran out and begged Chairman Jo to take back the motion. She pointed out he had other means of income, but she needs her salary. Chairman Jo argued they all share a responsibility, tutting the void vote must’ve been worth it. The rest of the attendees file out with glares from the conservatives, grins from the progressive party, and the stink-eye from Chief Won.
Se-ra slumps in her seat and Gong-myung walks over, waving the ballots in her face. She slaps his hand away and he sniffs he thought she was prepared when she abstained. Se-ra barks she didn’t abstain – she voted in favor in order to protect her paycheck. Grumbling she’s been upfront about wanting her salary, Se-ra glares at Gong-myung and demands how the budget ran out. He points out it’s hardly his fault and wonders who abstained if she didn’t. Se-ra snaps she wouldn’t know and shoves him aside as she storms out.
In her office, Chief Won blames Se-ra for the vote and looking tearfully up at a diagram, insists they must finish before the next election. Chairman Jo suggests he handle “in-house” business while she takes care of “urgent matters.” Leaving her office, he snickers to Min-jae that he abstained, bragging he knew Se-ra would vote for her salary. Min-jae thinks Se-ra’s adapting well, but Chairman Jo scoffs Min-jae is being too generous.
A notice goes out about the loss of pay to the dismay of the Mawon Office employees. Se-ra frets over what to do and her friends warn that if she plans to quit, she might as well move out of the district. Woo-young points out she’s permitted to have a second job and thinking she only has time in the morning and evenings, Se-ra grins at Ja-ryong… but he clings to Han-bi (who took over from Se-ra) Ha! At home, Se-ra wonders how she’ll pay for food and Mom’s debt and then something on the job board catches her eye.
The next morning, Gong-myung is thinking of Se-ra while jogging when he spots a boy sitting alone. Meanwhile, Se-ra is peddling a health drink at the police station when Gong-myung arrives with the child. He’s surprised by Se-ra’s attire and she explains she got a new job. Ignoring her pitch, Gong-myung reports the lost child to the officers, but the boy doesn’t respond to the officers’ questions.
Gong-myung kneels down but falters with what to say so Se-ra shoves him aside. She holds out a yogurt and when the child doesn’t take it, she threatens to give it to Gong-myung. The boy snatches it before it reaches Gong-myung and Se-ra sits with him while he drinks and Gong-myung watches her affectionately. Afterwards, he’s back to being prickly and warns Se-ra not to follow him.
Pocketing the drink she was about to offer, Se-ra sniffs she’s headed to work too. She praises Gong-myung for finding the lost child, but Gong-myung says the boy ran away. Before he can elaborate, they see Min-jae approaching and Se-ra frantically shoves the satchel from her part-time job in Gong-myung’s arms. She sashays past Min-jae and Gong-myung watches them pass with confusion.
Later, Min-jae finds Se-ra’s satchel in the office fridge with a note cursing anyone who steals from it and recognizes Se-ra’s writing. Meanwhile, Gong-myung finally clears Assemblyman Yang’s stuff from Se-ra’s desk and guesses she and Min-jae have decided to be professional at work. He’s unaware they’ve broken up and comments on her boyfriend not knowing about her second job.
Se-ra sniffs you shouldn’t rely on friends and family for business and Gong-myung’s jaw drops when she adds she’s dated Min-jae for 9 years. He asks why they dated so long and Se-ra says she loved him… but Gong-myung wants to know why Min-jae dated her. Oof! Annoyed, Se-ra snaps he must be feeling more comfortable around her and when Gong-myung tries to brush it off and get back to work, she grabs his face.
They stare at each other for a charged moment and Se-ra sighs he looks tired… and tries to sell him her health drink. Hee. Gong-myung leaves in a huff and Se-ra skips after him, promising to give him a discount as we see Assemblyman Yang’s journal is still on Se-ra’s desk.
While washing dishes, Gogn-myung is approached by Hee-soo. She asks if he had lunch and then drops a stack of files on the counter, asking him to do research for her. Gong-myung says he’ll have it done tomorrow, but Hee-soo insists she wants it today. Before he can argue, she asks where he worked before council secretariat and after Gong-myung answers, she cheerfully bustles off again.
Gong-myung walks home that evening and is joined by Se-ra on her scooter as she continues her sales pitch for her health drink. Gong-myung growls he’s not buying and she playfully bats at him with some packets, begging him to reconsider. Dad sees them and walks over purposefully… and greets Gong-myung, mistaking him for Min-jae. Se-ra quickly interjects and Dad demands why she’s flirting with someone she isn’t dating.
Neither respond until Dad asks who Gong-myung is. He introduces himself and when Dad understandably has no recognition, Se-ra adds he’s her childhood friend – and the son of Dad’s. Recognition finally dawns and Dad grins as Se-ra ruins the moment by declaring Gong-myung not her type anyway and shoving him into the fence.
At the welfare meeting the next day, Dong-chan throws a fit over the proposed budget for transportation expenses for low-income college students. He argues Mawon is strapped for cash, accuses the calculations of being wrong, and insists the recipients will just waste the money on partying. Se-ra deftly rebuts all his claims with simple facts and, bolstered by a confirmed order on her health drinks, Se-ra suggests they consider it an investment in Mawon’s youth.
Dong-chan’s still salty when the meeting adjourns, but Assemblyman Bong invites Se-ra to lunch. She chokes when he thanks her for her vote, but Assemblyman Bong ignores her protests. He says it’s important to have people on her side and recommends Se-ra make a joint-motion. Later, Se-ra calls to thank the police station for their order and asks about the lost child. The officer confirms the boy ran away from home and they had no choice but to release him to his father.
Se-ra and Hee-soo sit in a conference room and Se-ra cheerfully presents her idea of a neighborhood watch to protect the children of Mawon by reporting signs of abuse, keeping an eye out for lost children, and interfering with school violence. Hee-won asks about her standard for selecting the participating businesses and points out conglomerates will take advantage. Se-ra doesn’t have a response so Hee-soo ask if Se-ra reviewed her ordinance.
Nodding, Se-ra pulls out her journal and recites Hee-soo’s proposed bill is similar to two previous ordinances on female victims of violence and the prevention of child abuse. Hee-soo is surprised and says they made improvements and Se-ra genuinely compliments her on the addition of the obligation to keep reports a secret. Staring at the journal, Hee-soo’s smile becomes strained.
Afterwards, Hee-soo blows off steam at the noraebang, cursing Se-ra’s complaint diary. She accuses Se-ra of evaluating her work and snaps she wouldn’t even sit with her if not for Assemblyman Bong. Her phone jingles with a text from Gong-myung, reporting he’d finished her research and Hee-soo’s fury melts away as she breaks into a smile. Thinking he’ll still be at work, she rushes out and preens herself as she waits for him to exit the building.
When Gong-myung steps outside, Hee-soo pulls up in her car and offers him a ride. Gong-myung opts for the bus and Hee-soo argues he’ll feel more tired that way. Sighing, Gong-myung points out he’s tired because she made him work late. He accuses her of treating him like a personal assistant and warns that an excessively tight deadline reduces the quality of the research. He bids her goodnight and Hee-soo pouts. Meanwhile, Se-ra receives an email from Hee-soo regarding revisions of the bill and her eyes bulge at all the edits.
The next day, Hee-soo monitors a blood drive and debates texting Gong-myung. Dong-chan brings her a drink and says he has a few revisions for the bill she’s working on with Se-ra – namely putting his name on it. Hee-soo tuts he’s looking for a free ride and Gong-chan snaps he’s just tagging along and already discussed it with Chairman Jo. Hee-soo wonders if she needs to do as Chairman Jo says. Dong-chan points out she doesn’t like Se-ra either, after the by-election.
That evening, Gong-myung shows up at Se-ra’s with flowers and a cake. When he rings the bell, Se-ra nearly knocks him over opening the door. He smiles at her family photo as Se-ra grumbles Mom won a prize yet spent more than the earnings. Gong-myung presents Mom with the flowers he’d remembered she liked while Se-ra swipes the cake. Mom praises how well Gong-myung has grown up, both of them looking sad at the mention of his mother.
Eyeing the table, Gong-myung asks why Mom cooked so much and she says she wanted to feed him a home-cooked meal… but Se-ra reveals she bought the banchan from a local shop. Hee. Mom insists Se-ra take Gong-myung so she drags him into her room, saying had she known he was coming, she would’ve told him she prefers blueberry yogurt cake. Se-ra flops on her bed and Gong-myung sits at her desk.
He notices her joint ordinance and Se-ra crawls over to him, suggesting they can either distribute her health drink pamphlets or check the bill for typos. Gong-myung opts for proofreading and gets to work as Se-ra reads manhwa in bed. She breaks the silence by voicing her wish to get the ordinance passed and be acknowledged as a rep and a colleague. Gong-myung doesn’t respond and Se-ra turns to look at him, becoming entranced.
Gong-myung looks at her curiously until Dad arrives and Se-ra rushes out of the room. She skids to a halt when she sees Chairman Jo with him and looks desperately back at Gong-myung as he joins them and his face falls.
Se-ra eyes Gong-myung over the dinner table as Dad boisterously wonders how people don’t notice he and Chairman Jo are father and son. Chairman Jo jokes he’s waiting to surprise everyone but Gong-myung corrects he’s taken his mother’s last name since he was 20. Shaking off the tension, Dad thanks Chairman Jo for looking out for Se-ra and Gong-myung asks if he was the one who revealed Se-ra received a job as a favor.
Denying involvement, Chairman Jo attempts to diffuse the situation: “My son must be very interested in your daughter.” Gong-myung scoffs, recalling Chairman Jo had declared “Seo Gong-myung is not my son.” Apologizing to Se-ra’s parents, he excuses himself and Se-ra runs out after him. As she looks for Gong-myung, Se-ra flashes back to 2002 when Gong-myung had run away from home and she’d gone out in the rain to look for him.
Se-ra had found him huddling in a park slide and as he trailed slowly behind her, Se-ra gently told him not to worry and to stay the night at her house. Gong-myung stammered her couldn’t but Se-ra told him to give her some of his fear. She reached out her hand to offer something in return but was cut off by the arrival of the adults. Chairman Jo stormed towards them and Gong-myung backed away. Seeing this, Se-ra thrust her umbrella out and shouted for Chairman Jo to go home, she’d be taking Gong-myung with her.
In the present, Se-ra catches up to Gong-myung and freezes when she sees he’s crying. Gong-myung tells her to leave him alone and says anytime he’s asked about his family, he says his parents are dead – after his mom died, he decided Chairman Jo was dead to him too. Gong-myung adds he wouldn’t have come if he knew Chairman Jo was gonna be there. He stalks off and Se-ra can only watch him with tears in her eyes. Back home, she flips through the pages he’d edited and smiles at the note he’d left: “You can do it. Gu Se-ra.”
At the presentation for the bill, Se-ra notes Gong-myung sitting morosely in the back and looks to Hee-soo, who curiously won’t return her smile. Sensing something wrong, she looks at the handout to find Hee-soo and Dong-chan’s name on the bill… but not her own. Afterwards, Se-ra confronts Hee-soo on the rooftop and Hee-soo sighs sharing work with seniors is common. Se-ra snaps it’s not sharing – it’s thievery.
Se-ra demands what Dong-chan did and Hee-soo says he’ll help her create and enforce policies. Se-ra cuts her off, saying in that case she should include every contributing name in the office. Hee-soo warns Se-ra not to make a fuss, saying she needs allies and should consider this sharing. Se-ra scoffs sharing is for service and love, not donating or recycling. She barks this is robbery and slams the door behind her.
In a sudden fury, Se-ra slides the lock in place, trapping Hee-soo on the roof and scurries away as Hee-soo bangs on the door. Next, Se-ra visits Dong-chan who accuses her of being greedy towards her seniors. Se-ra argues greed is taking credit for someone else’s hard work. Dong-chan shouts he’s the Vice Chairman and warns Se-ra is making a mistake crossing him. He flinches when Se-ra grabs his heavy nameplate and insists this is normal.
Dong-chan says Chairman Jo’s ideas come from Min-jae, Assemblyman Heo claimed he passed five bills but stole content from an official report, while yet another assemblyman steals bills from both parties. Dong-chan sniffs he’s well-mannered by comparison since he at least included Hee-soo’s name. Se-ra sighs losers who steal others’ ideas and take credit are the reason Mawon is broke. Dong-chan balks at her accusation and dares her to repeat it with him recording.
Leaning into his phone, Se-ra loudly enunciates: “You people are all pathetic losers.” Holding up one of her juice fliers, Dong-chan reasons they can work this out financially and Se-ra screams she won’t cut a deal with him. She scoffs pityingly and sweeps out of the room.
Gong-myung tosses a soaked and shivering Hee-soo a towel and tends to a screaming teapot. Hee-soo huffs Dong-chan had Chairman Jo’s approval and Gong-myung wonders if he’s that powerful, telling Hee-soo not to act like a victim – the one wronged is Se-ra. Rankled, Hee-soo thanks him for fetching her from the roof but argues his attitude is what got him demoted in the first place. She barks he’s in no position to advise her. Annoyed, Gong-myung asks if she only listens to superiors, pointing out she had a choice and went along with Dong-chan because she wanted to gain something.
On his way home, Gong-chan drops into the side dish shop Mom ordered from. Seeing Se-ra inside, he starts to leave, but she calls him back. She peruses the menu, ignoring his questions about what happened earlier and reprimanding her for locking Hee-soo on the roof. Se-ra tells him Hee-soo called it “sharing” and after their talk, she’d gone to Dong-chan and he asked her to make the presentation for the National Assembly meeting. She’d demanded money and they’d agreed to sign an outsourcing contract.
Gong-myung accuses her of having no pride and doing anything for money. Se-ra agrees, adding she has a 50,000 dollar debt to pay off. Gong-myung tells her to be honest and says she just doesn’t want to give up the acceptance she’d received after everyone assumed she’d voted in their favor. Blinking back tears, Se-ra says he has a knack for adding insult to injury and storms out.
At home, Gong-myung wonders how she could have such a sizable debt and sighs the food doesn’t taste the same (as it had with Se-ra’s family). In her own room, Se-ra frowns at the presentation and looks up at Gong-myung’s note, cursing him for pegging her.
Se-ra tramps into work and hands Gong-myung a thumbdrive for the presentation at the last minute, warning him to play it properly. Dong-chan starts the presentation but suddenly the screen glitches and their conversation the day before echoes through the room. Dong-chan orders Gong-myung to turn it off but he holds his hands up and looks towards Se-ra, who’s snickering. She sashays out as Dong-chan tries (and fails) to recover himself.
At the pojangmacha, Se-ra greets Gong-myung, grumbling she thought he went home since he didn’t reply to her texts. He tells her Dong-chan will likely try to fire her. Se-ra wonders if she’ll get unemployment, and then solemnly adds you need to have something you like to stay at a workplace – but she doesn’t. She doubts Gong-myung does either and declares if he hadn’t poked her conscience, she’d have let it go, taken the money, and tried again.
Gong-myung walks a drunk and dancing Se-ra home. Outside her house, Se-ra asks whose side he’s on and when Gong-myung doesn’t answer, she suggests he be on hers. Gong-myung sighs taking sides is childish so Se-ra proposes she gives him her heart to keep and he gives her his: “We look after each other’s heart… and that way we’ll never lose it. How about that?” Gong-myung scoffs and holds out his hand. Se-ra happily grasps it and as Gong-myung’s closes around hers, Se-ra’s heart beats a little faster.
Gong-myung nervously snatches his hand back and mutters he wanted his bag. Se-ra shoves the bag into his chest and runs to her house. He watches her, jumping when Ja-ryong waves from the floor above. At her door, Se-ra turns back and shouts: “I kept it! I took it and kept it!”
The next day, Se-ra stands for the Ethics Committee meeting and Chairman Jo announces district reps must have integrity and act with class, according to their status. Se-ra snorts and argues she considers integrity to be not stealing from others and class as beating up a thief to protect herself. Se-ra declares she feels no guilt for her actions and adds there was more to the conversation they didn’t hear.
Se-ra plays Dong-chan’s criticisms of the other reps and says she did consider the little honor they had left. Finally, Se-ra declares she didn’t cast a void vote – she voted in favor of the bonds. When the punishment is issued, Dong-chan gets a 3-day suspension… while Se-ra gets 30. Dae-cheol balks at the notice and Yong-kyu explains it’s because Se-ra refused to apologize. Dae-cheol tuts she takes the hard path voluntarily.
That night, Se-ra gets a call from her second job that a young man placed five orders for her. Se-ra immediately guesses Gong-myung and Ja-ryong announces he saw Gong-myung drop her off last night. Han-bi and Woo-young pounce and Se-ra snaps she has no interest in Gong-myung. Woo-young guesses she’ll get back with Min-jae and to Se-ra’s annoyance, she and Han-bi place bets. Hee.
We learn the mysterious helper, however, is Min-jae as he takes a call from someone thanking him for the drinks and looks thoughtfully at Se-ra’s sticky note. Se-ra smiles as she pulls out her phone to call Gong-myung and thank him. He answers, but cuts her off, saying he’ll call later. They hang up just as Se-ra sees Gong-myung get out of a car. She excitedly calls out to him and then she sees the car belongs to Hee-soo and her smile dips into a frown as her hands shake with rage.
Epilogue At the pojangmacha, Gong-myung pulled a small cakebox from his bag and Se-ra opened it to find her blueberry yogurt cake. Gong-myung said it was to congratulate her on her bill and Se-ra sighed no one knows she worked on it. “I do,” Gong-myung said, “I know it.” They stare at each other until Gong-myung breaks eye contact. Se-ra takes a bite of the cake and they smile at each other. Se-ra feeds Gong-myung the next bite and they laugh.
I find it fascinating how Se-ra and Gong-myung are so sweet it hurts. That epilogue was delightful and unless I’m mistaken, the first time we’ve seen Gong-myung really laugh. He lets himself be happy with Se-ra and that speaks volumes towards their relationship. Even if we didn’t get glimpses of their bond from childhood, you can see how she’s the only person he lets in – even when he’s doing his best to hold her at arm’s length. Their past ties them together, but I think it also is the thing pushing them apart. We still have a lot of missing pieces and I’m not sure if Gong-myung’s resistance is tied to a specific event, or if he just wants to lock the past away so fully, he’s willing to forget the good as well as the bad. Luckily for him, Se-ra is here to stay and will likely serve as a key to getting him to open up and start letting his wounds heal. On the downside, there’s a lot of obstacles standing in the way before we can get to that.
As some of y’all mentioned in the comments last episode, I failed to properly articulate my opinion on Hee-soo. This was the first episode where we got a decent look at her as a character and I’m pleased by how she’s being portrayed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find her appropriately frustrating – she’s intended to be difficult to like. Hee-soo acts as Se-ra’s foil – Machiavellian, as one of you so nicely pointed out – and actually reminds me of Lee Da-hee’s character in one of my all-time favorite dramas, I Hear Your Voice. She’s petty but – as we were finally able to fully see this episode – she also has a quirky side and while she may be unscrupulous, she is a politician.
A secondary female lead is a tough character to balance and I so strongly want this show to do all its characters (but particularly females) justice. This writer has done beautifully and so far, it would appear my trepidation is unwarranted, but I gladly welcome being proven wrong in this area. My biggest hope (aside from our leads teaming up and giving Chairman Jo the boot) is to see Se-ra and Hee-soo build a more positive rivalry as both women grow as individuals and politicians. While the antagonism up til now has been solely from Hee-soo’s corner, after the ordinance betrayal and now Gong-myung’s oblivious involvement, Se-ra is going to start firing back.
And rounding off our classic dramaland love-square, is Min-jae. When I proposed he felt possessive towards Se-ra, I didn’t mean that in a creepy stalker way – if anything, Min-jae’s problem was a lack of interest in Se-ra – rather, I can see how it would be frustrating when the career and recognition you’ve been working for and the thing you sacrificed to achieve that… all ends up in someone else’s lap. Min-jae helping Se-ra with her part-time job shows that he does care for her on some level, but their romance died a long time ago. I appreciated the breakup taking place in the first episode so there was no squicky crossover between Min-jae and Gong-myung. It’s always rubbed me the wrong way when the romance starts when one (or both) of the leads are with other people, as if saying it’s okay to essentially cheat if the other person isn’t right for you.
It’s the reason I’m always wary of writers vilifying second leads and I’m so thrilled with the shows that manage to avoid it. The relationship between Se-ra and Min-jae was already over, even before Se-ra suggested they break up. The fact that they dated for 9 years and Dad had never met Min-jae proves there was a lack of commitment. I’m not sure how this is going to play out, but I’m thankful Min-jae and Hee-soo haven’t been relegated as evil sub-characters out to rain the OTP’s parade. I’m so happy with all the characters (even the ones I love to hate) and am excited to be a passenger on their journey.